The Next Generation of Creation Scientists?

Where is the next generation of creation scientists?   I don’t mean the next generation of believers in creation science but the next generation of young-earth experts who will continue the legacy of Morris, Austin, Humphreys, Woodmorappe, Wood, Bergman, Oard, Baumgardner, etc… I have to believe that this has to be a question that many of the first-generation creation scientists have pondered over the past two decades.

You might wonder, how is a new creation scientist generated?  By their own admission admission, the best route to producing a creation scientist is to capture them early, very early.   By using young-earth curricula in school and church, taking kids to the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter it is believed that training up a child in the way they will go go will yield adults that have the “correct” worldview.

That might create another Ken Ham and there are dozens of Ken Ham wannabes out there already but Ken Ham is a mass-media communication artist, not a scientist.  He defends with rhetoric which he presumes is backed up by scientists doing real research to show that his claims about science are true.   Likewise, many people can become politicians but politicians rarely do the grunt work of crunching numbers to generate the nuts and bolts of the bills they espouse.

The more important question is:  Where is the next generation of scientists who will continue the process of constructing a coherent scientific model of the history of a young world?   Such a model has only been a dream of the original generation of creation scientists as they have proposed speculative hypotheses that require testing and modifying before they can take on the semblance of a viable model.

I realize that many of you reading this will be reading thinking to yourselves, but young earth creationism never was a science but rather a belief that then sought some support from science.  However, I am looking at this from the fundamentalist Christian congregant perspective of creation science.  These are individuals whose children are apt to ask: Why aren’t there dinosaurs anymore?  Or, why are lemurs only found on Madagascar?  They are looking for scientific answers couched within the context of an earth they believe can only be 6000 years old.  They expect that creation science experts will provide them with scientific answers to these questions.

These individuals don’t believe Ken Ham just because he is Ken Ham, although I am sure there are many that mistake Ken Ham for a trained scientist and theologian.  Rather they believe Ken Ham partly because they believe that Ken Ham is standing on the shoulders of experts that have carefully considered and weighed the scientific and Biblical evidence.   Ken Ham and other creation science spokesperson’s credibility is based on the key perception that they have solid evidence to back up their claims.  And youg-earth leaders like Ken Ham feed this belief to maintain their authority on the topic. They are constantly claiming that their young earth commitment is backed by a chorus of Christian PhD scientists who have dedicated their careers to providing evidence to support these claims.

But what happens when all that really exists are flourishes of rhetoric with include appeals to the products of a past generation of creation scientists for legitimacy?    One of the mantras of young earth creationists organizations over the years has been that they need funds to do their own research which would help to even the playing field with secular science.  This results of these research, though not necessarily persuasive, they believe would provide further evidence to the secular scientific world that their theories for the earth’s origin are better or at least making a case for being an alternative contender among conventional scientists.  Those first-generation creation scientists believed they just needed time to convince their skeptical colleagues and that eventually even non-believing scientists would see the merit in their proposals and begin to take them seriously.

It is apparent that this was the great hope of George McCready Price in the earth 20th century and then Whitcomb and Morris in the 1960s  who in the 1980s made attempts to have creation science incorporated into secular education curricula.  I think the expectation 50 years ago was that by the 21st century there would be hundreds of Christian young-earth-believing scientists who would be so convinced of this young earth model that their views would snowball and become commonplace in mainstream literature by shear force of the evidence.

Published in 1974 this is one of many books by Dr. Henry Morris the modern father of the creation science movement.

Has creation science been a success?  
Any person who has donated to this effort over the past 20 years has to wonder if they are getting what they were promised.   Yes, there is a fancy creation museum, an ark replica theme park, lots of publicity, tons of print and digital media and polls that suggest that significant number of the public believe the earth is young. That sounds like a lot of success.  But, the bottom line is that in terms of convincing scientists—both Christian and secular—and future scientists that young earth hypotheses have any merit and can be used as a legitimate alternative for understanding the origins and development of the earth’s geological formations and living things, success would not be an accurate characterization of reality.

Real success would involve demonstrating that individuals who have the appropriate training to understand the data and evaluate the models because they have studied the processes involved and been involved in real research (gone into the field, collected data, analyzed data, written about it and been reviewed by their peers to test the logic of their conclusions) are convinced that the young earth models are viable theories. Success would be seeing scientists use creationist’ models to make new predictions and make new discoveries.

Any upstart movement or cause can sustain itself for a time by shaping perceptions and beliefs through rhetoric but to sustain itself over time those beliefs and perceptions must be under-girded with ideas that can be intelligently defended and stand the test of time.   Henry Morris laid out a lot of hypotheses in his Genesis Flood manifesto, itself a recapitulation of early 7th Day Adventist works, in the 1950s. Many of these hypotheses were little more than speculation and had not been tested at the time.  Rather, he hoped that his framework for Flood Geology would be tested and improved with the gaps of knowledge filled in by future generations of creation scientists.

I am sure that most creation scientists would argue that much has been learned since the publication of The Genesis Flood and of course many of the ideas proposed within have been studied and discussed. Some of Morris’ claims have been discarded while others have become standard ideas of today’s creationists.   However, I would counter that most creation science models are not much more sophisticated today than they were then.  For those that never found the arguments in The Genesis Flood convincing there aren’t many more compelling reasons today to believe in flood geology than there were 60 years ago.

Returning to the question of where are the future generations of creation scientists?  I am not suggesting that there isn’t some young blood in the movement.  Answers in Genesis has hired some younger employees in the last decade some of which have fresh PhDs in scientific fields but PhDs at AiG are mostly window dressing since most of their their time is spent giving talks and writing newsletter articles rather than doing any scientific research.  They filter news stories and formulate creationists responses to secular science stories but they are rarely generating new data or doing the work of creating a positive testable scientific paradigm to replace conventional theories.

One notable exception may be Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson who is tasked with coming up with a genetic model for the post-flood hyper-evolution hypothesis that the AiG has been promoting now for over a decade.  In a way, they decided long before doing any research and that ark “kinds” could evolve into thousands of new species in just a few thousand years and now they are trying to find some scientific evidence to fit their theory. Thus far they have provided little that has peaked the interest of the wider scientific community (see: What has the Response been to “Replacing Darwin: The New Origin of Species?“.

Creation Ministries International (CMI), a split from Answers in Genesis (or parent of AiG depending on how you view them), has a couple of PhD scientists on staff that received their degrees within the past 20 years and are active writers in creation science journals(more about these journals in my next post).  The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) has had two legitimate younger PhD scientists (Nathaniel Jeanson and Jason Lisle)  both of which were actively engaged in some research and writing but lost Jeanson to AiG and Lisle to his own independent creation apologetic ministry (Biblical Science Institute).

The Institute for Creation Research, the grandfather of creation scientific ministries, once had a graduate school offering degrees in biology and geology.  Part of the goal of this graduate school was to train the next generation of creation scientists.  Where did they all go?  I don’t know how many graduates they produced but I have found fewer than five creationist scientists on the payrolls of organizations today that list a graduate degree by ICR in their educational background.  I have to believe that when Henry Morris formed ICR and his graduate school of creation science he envisioned hundreds of scientists today actively applying the creation model to the historical sciences not just mouthing support for it.   The former obviously hasn’t happened despite the proliferation of creation science organizations with their significant financial resources and publishing capacity.  The graduate school was abandoned more than 20 years ago and nothing has grown to take its place.

Creationists list hundreds of PhD scientists who ascribe to creationist’ (broadly defined) beliefs.  But this is not the same as saying there are hundreds of creation scientists doing creation science.    The majority of these PhD scientists are scientists who are Christians and believe in the cause of creation science and most are likely not even  familiar with the evidence for creation science. Most of them are engineers or medical doctors who are not trained in historical geology, evolutionary biology or have been involved in doing research as part of their professional training.

I’m not saying there aren’t any young creation scientists who are making an impact.  The large number of younger students and faculty at the recent International Creation Conference (ICC) in Pittsburgh suggests creation science is as popular as ever.  What I am saying is that for a movement that claims the evidence is overwhelming for a young earth and with 50 solid years of training and recruiting scientists to take up the mantle of creation science, the response has been rather underwhelming.

The lack of robust and growing intellectual support for the cause of creation science is a underlying weakness of what appears to be a growing and successful movement as measured by dollars and followers.

This post is a revised and updated version of a post that I published in 2012.  Very little has changed in the past three years.

10 thoughts on “The Next Generation of Creation Scientists?

    1. Hi Alice, I think there may be plenty that would take on the leadership positions of the movement itself though I think Ham’s son has the fast track to that position. But if it could be said that there were an intellectual core to the movement the older generation of thinkers still form that core and they are not replacing themselves with an expanded number of serious defenders. One would think that if YEC science were really as good as they say it is and that the evidence for an old earth really is overwhelming, that the 40-50 years of publishing and refining their models would be causing thousands of Christians who are scientists to be taking up the cause. There will always be a few that will believe no matter the evidence and will continue to write in support of flood geology but lack of experts flocking to their defense in quite an indictment on the strength of their evidence.


  1. Fantastic post here. Thanks for delving into this issue, which I find fascinating. Do you think that YEC may just become entirely smokescreens in the future? If there are few people with degrees doing research into the scientific aspects, then how will the movement continue other than through sheer rhetoric and resting its laurels on refuted theories?


    1. I should be clear that I’m not saying that YEC organizations are devoid of any research interests just that the amount of research they are doing is far less than would be expected of a healthy science. A science that was providing answers that stimulate further research and holds out promising future finds is attractive and brings in new people. YEC science may not be replacing its scientists or if they are, they are just barely. Just today on Ken Hams blog he refers to a “research” paper they are publishing on biblical kinds that were on the ark. I won’t go over the details here but the paper is not much research and lots and lots of conjecture. Ham plays up the paper with words like “I do praise the Lord for AiG’s research department, headed up by Dr. Andrew Snelling. This department will provide us with tremendous information we can use to equip Christians to defend the Christian faith and answer skeptical questions of our day that are used to cause people to doubt the Bible.”
      You can see that Ham is saying just what I said is needed – information that people like him can use. Ken Ham wants to be able to claim that his words are based on research. I have read all the other work by this author of this work and there isn’t much too it. Nothing in this paper is going to make any other scientists re-evaluate anything they know. All it does is to help Ken Ham be able to say that all the animals could have easily fit on the ark.
      To your question. It can’t continue with such a shaky foundation (both science and hermaneutics) but I think it will always be with us. There will always be those that feel they must believe and therefore they must defend their beliefs with any argument that they can possibly make. But YEC I really do believe has seen its best days already. The market is saturated to put it in economical terms and only the die-hard customers are going to come back for more. I’ve been doing to work with search numbers again, this time on Google trends. I’ve been surprised to find that most YEC search terms have seen a decline over the past 5 years. In fact science/faith topics seem to be receiving less interest as well. After a 20 year period of frenetic publishing, discussion and debate we may be seeing some decline in interest in the creation/evolution debate.


  2. You’ve got to be kidding! There never was a FIRST generation of YEC scientists… only unsubstantiable conjectureists (Morris, et al). It’s not science, it’s a religious view.


    1. Just because they are wrong doesn’t mean that there are not a group of people that are considered the fathers of the movement to explain, via naturalistic mechanisms how the world could be young. There are undoubtedly those in that group that don’t understand science and/or spin data to fit their presuppositional beliefs but whatever they are they are still looking for a second generation. It is partially because their science is a failure that a second generation is not blossoming as you might expect if there were an substance to what they are doing.

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